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Villa Bel Air (FR) Graves Blanc 1996

Bordeaux White Blends from Graves, Bordeaux, France
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    Villa Bel Air (FR)

    Villa Bel Air

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    Villa Bel Air, Graves, Bordeaux, France
    1996 Graves Blanc
    On December 24th 1777, Louis Dufaure, Marquis de Lajarte, bought an important property situated in the parish of Saint-Morillon called Bel-Air de Bellevue, from Jean-Pierre Motmans de l'Isle, for a sum of 70 000 pounds. From this date, the new owner, councillor at the Bordeaux Parliament, committed himself to increasing the standing of his estate, restoring the vineyard and maintaining the technical installations in good condition. In 1791, he undertook the building of a new residence, a very fine charterhouse of great architectural finesse that we can still admire to this day. The exceptional decoration (carved stones, mouldings and wreathes of leaves) has been listed as part of France's historical monuments, and is a perfect illustration of the period of the French Revolution. Unfortunately, the building of Bel-Air ended when the Revolution was at its peak. On April 28th 1794, the Marquis de Lajarte was imprisoned and rapidly executed. Bel-Air was sold as a national property. A few years later, at the beginning of the XXth century, Honoré Zappa, a wine trader in Bordeaux, enhanced the grounds by the creation of a large pond and the addition of numerous sculptures.

    Bordeaux White Blends

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    Sometimes light and crisp, other times rich and creamy, Bordeaux white blends typically consist of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Often, a small amount of Muscadelle or Sauvignon Gris is included for added interest. This blend was popularized in the Bordeaux region of France (where it also comprises outstanding sweet wines like Sauternes and Barsac), but is often mimicked throughout the New World, particularly in California, Washington, and Australia.

    In the Glass

    Sémillon provides the background to this blend, with a relatively full body and an oily texture. Sauvignon Blanc adds acidity and lots of bright fruit flavor, particularly white grapefruit, lime, and freshly cut grass. Used in smaller proportions, Muscadelle can contribute fresh floral notes, while Sauvignon Gris is less aromatic but offers ripe, juicy fruit on the palate. These wines run the gamut from unoaked, refreshing, and easy to drink to serious, complex, and barrel-aged. The latter style, usually with a higher percentage of Sémillon, can develop aromas of ginger, chamomile, and dried orange peel. The dessert wines produced by these blends, often with the help of noble rot, can have lush stone fruit and honey character.

    Perfect Pairings

    Crisp, dry Bordeaux white blends are the perfect accompaniment for raw or lightly cooked seafood, especially shellfish. A more structured, Sémillon-based bottling can stand up to richer fish, chicken, or pork dishes in white sauces. These blends also work well with a variety of vegetables and fresh herbs, like asparagus, peas, basil, and tarragon. Sweet dessert wines are traditionally enjoyed with strong blue cheeses, foie gras, or fruit-based desserts.

    Sommelier Secret

    Sauternes and Barsac are usually reserved for dessert, but smart sommeliers know that they can be served at any time—before, during, or after the meal. Try these sweet wines as an aperitif with jamón ibérico or oysters with a spicy mignonette, or during dinner alongside hearty Alsatian sausage, poached lobster in beurre blanc sauce, or even fried chicken.

    ALL82084_1996 Item# 6317

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